Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) wrote Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack urging prompt action on the Nebraska State Farm Service Agency's (FSA) request for 58 Nebraska counties to be declared Secretarial Disaster Designations. This disaster designation qualifies producers on a case-by-case basis in those counties for emergency, low-interest loans through the FSA. In the letter, Johanns also asked Vilsack to consider allowing emergency haying and grazing of Conservations Reserve Program (CRP) lands for the entire state.
"As of today, farmers and ranchers in every Nebraska county are facing drought conditions," Johanns wrote. "And, more than 75 percent of the state is in a state of severe drought the Nebraska State Farm Service Agency has requested a Secretarial Disaster Designation for 58 counties. As you know, this designation can ensure that farmers and ranchers in these counties are eligible for low-interest emergency loans. Thus, I urge you to act promptly on this and other similar requests in the days and weeks ahead."
Currently 69 Nebraska counties have been approved for emergency haying and grazing of CRP lands. Johanns asked Vilsack to consider approving the entire state for this emergency relief.
Johanns also launched a page on his Senate website devoted to the drought. The website will provide timely updates on the drought, actions taken by the state and federal government and a list of agencies that can assist Nebraska ranchers and farmers.